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Breaking Free: Reclaiming Identity as an Intercountry Adoptee with Sariah Baker - Ep 130

Unraveling Adoption

Release Date: 01/27/2024

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More Episodes

“I think for adoptees, my biggest advice for them is to ask if you need something. Whether it be therapy, whether it's understanding your story, whether it's being able to know your identity, ask. And if they don't want to tell you, keep asking.” -- Sariah Baker

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Understand the profound influence of adoption trauma on self-identity and self-worth.

  • Discover the unique struggles and triumphs faced by intercountry adoptees in the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Recognize the pivotal role adoptive parents play in supporting the unique needs and experiences of intercountry adoptees.

  • Learn about effective therapeutic approaches that empower intercountry adoptees to navigate their complex identities and experiences.

  •  Observe a journey of self-discovery and personal growth as an intercountry adoptee sheds limiting labels and societal expectations.

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📆 Community Calendar: UnravelingAdoption.com/Calendar

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My special guest is Sariah Baker

Sariah Baker, a 31-year-old human resources manager living in Portland, Oregon, brings a unique perspective to the complexities of intercountry and interracial adoption. As an intercountry adoptee from China, raised in a white Mormon family, Sariah's story delves into the intricate layers of identity she has navigated throughout her life. Her experiences offer valuable insights into the challenges and triumphs of finding and embracing one's true identity.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

Other resources:

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Uncovering the Impact of Adoption Trauma
Adoption trauma can have long-lasting effects on an adoptee. It can shake one's self-perception and fuel internal struggles, particularly in relation to identity. Helping adoptees navigate and heal from such trauma requires understanding, patience, and therapeutic intervention.

Embracing the Vital Role of Adoptive Parents
Adoptive parents play a crucial role in mitigating the impacts of adoption trauma and providing an accepting space for their children. They hold the responsibility of fostering open communication, providing emotional support, and celebrating the unique backgrounds of their adoptees. Proper understanding and support from adoptive parents can significantly aid in an adoptee's journey towards self-acceptance and self-discovery.

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Unraveling Adoption is produced and hosted by Beth Syverson

Music written and performed by Joseph Nakao

Email questions or comments to [email protected]

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Support Unraveling Adoption on Patreon: Patreon.com/UnravelingAdoption

Check out our website: www.UnravelingAdoption.com

Create your own podcast through Libsyn: https://signup.libsyn.com/?promo_code=ADOPTION

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Timestamped summary of this episode:
00:00:00 - Introduction and Background
Beth introduces the podcast and the guest, Sariah Baker, an intercountry adoptee from China raised in a white Mormon family. Sariah briefly shares her background and the circumstances of her adoption.

00:02:47 - Challenges of Adoption
Sariah discusses the complexities of her adoption, including the traumatic experiences in the orphanage and the challenges of being raised in a white Mormon family as a Chinese adoptee.

00:06:53 - Struggles with Identity and Trauma
Sariah shares her struggles with trauma, perfectionism, and navigating her sexuality within the context of her Mormon upbringing, leading to emotional pain and self-medication with large quantities of Ibuprofen.

00:10:15 - Seeking Help and Recovery
Sariah recounts seeking help for her mental health struggles and the impact of institutional treatment on breaking free from perfectionism and allowing herself to feel emotions.

00:11:28 - The Dangers of Self-Medication
Sariah and Beth discuss the dangers of self-medication with Ibuprofen, highlighting the need for parents to secure over-the-counter medications and the underlying psychological need for control in such situations.

00:12:04 - Overcoming Struggles with Therapy
Sariah shares her experience with therapy, including DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and talk therapy, to overcome feelings of perfectionism and unmask her true self.

00:13:24 - Faith Crisis and Identity Struggle
Sariah discusses her struggle with her faith and identity crisis, including grappling with her sexuality and the impact of her environment on her mental health.

00:14:37 - Battle with Bipolar Disorder
Sariah opens up about her battle with bipolar disorder, including her suicide attempt and the importance of seeking help.

00:19:39 - Search for Birth Family
Sariah talks about her ongoing journey to find her birth family, including her experience with DNA testing and the challenges she faces in this quest for self-discovery.

00:22:53 - Family Support and Validation
Sariah reflects on the lack of support and validation from her adoptive family in her search for her birth family, emphasizing the importance of understanding and support in an adoptee's journey of self-discovery.

00:23:57 - Responsibilities of Adoptive Parents
Sariah and Beth discuss the important responsibilities of adoptive parents, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach to supporting the emotional and healing needs of adopted children, as well as being prepared for potential reunions and therapy.

00:25:08 - Challenges of Intercountry Adoption
Sariah and the host discuss the unexpected challenges and expenses of intercountry adoption, including the need for multiple trips to the child's country of origin, potential reunions, and therapy. They highlight the importance of adoptive parents being prepared for these aspects.

00:28:25 - Cultural Awareness and Identity
Sariah shares her experience of growing up in a predominantly white and Mormon culture, where her Chinese identity and culture were not fully integrated. She discusses the impact of not being encouraged to explore her cultural heritage and the implications for adoptees.

00:31:56 - Family Dynamics and Healing
Sariah reflects on her complex relationship with her adoptive family, expressing a desire for a more nurturing and supportive dynamic. She discusses the challenges of navigating her trauma and seeking acknowledgment and understanding from her family.

00:34:04 - Challenges of Identity and Acceptance
Sariah delves into the challenges of navigating her identity as a former Mormon, her sexuality, and the pressure to conform to societal expectations. She shares her struggle with feeling judged by her family and the difficulty of making personal choices.

00:35:42 - Impact of self-talk and internal struggles
Sariah discusses the unhealthy impact of self-talk and the internal struggles she faces as an adoptee, including feelings of being a bad person and the trauma of abandonment.

00:36:33 - Adoptive parents' reinforcement and expectations
Sariah shares how adoptive parents' reinforcement and expectations can contribute to an adoptee's struggle with identity and acceptance, highlighting the challenges of being gay in a conservative environment.

00:37:28 - Prioritizing self-needs and coping mechanisms
Sariah talks about prioritizing her own needs and shares coping mechanisms, including the use of poetry as a way to express emotions and the concept of the "backpack of truths" to acknowledge and accept oneself.

00:40:34 - Breaking free from societal labels
Sariah reflects on breaking free from societal labels and embracing her authentic self, emphasizing the importance of personal growth and self-acceptance as an adoptee with multiple identities. Sariah shares a hopeful poem she wrote called “Walls Versus Gates.”

00:44:28 - Advice for adoptees and self-discovery
Sariah offers advice for adoptees to seek understanding of their identity and emphasizes the importance of self-discovery and self-acceptance, encouraging others to explore their truths and seek support in their journey.